Story by Emma Wilson
Photo by Luke Nankivell
In 2009, Drake University gained representation on the Des Moines City Council. A Drake law student, Halley Griess, was elected to the Des Moines City Council to represent Ward 1, which consists of neighborhoods surrounding Drake, primarily to the north-west side of Des Moines.
Griess moved to the Drake area when he enrolled as a first-year accounting major. While at Drake, he worked in the Business School offices, was a resident assistant and served as the president of Campus Fellowship. After finishing his undergraduate studies, Griess enrolled in the Drake Law School. While at the law school, he was the managing editor of the Drake Journal of Agriculture Law.
In Griess’ third year of law school, he ran for City Council as the youngest ever council member in the City of Des Moines.
“I ran because I did not like some of the decisions being made and felt that if I wanted to critique the process, I should be willing to be a part of the process as well,” Griess said.
He ran in a close election against 20-year veteran councilman Tom Vlassis, a retired pharmacist and fellow Drake alumni.
“Most of the things the City Council is involved with is probably missed by most students until it affects them directly,”
Unbeknownst to many Drake students, the City Council makes lots of decisions that affect them. Some may be rather basic decisions such as snow ordinances but others such as the creation of West Village “took a lot of teamwork, both from the City and from Drake,” Griess said.
The City Council is working on lots of new developments in the Drake area.
“We are excited about some potential developments taking place adjacent to campus, including a new complex being considered at 32nd (Street) and Forest (Avenue),”
It also just introduced a new neighborhood plan focusing on housing, “ … including maintaining the history and upgrading the housing stock in the area,”
The Drake community is also represented by the Drake Neighborhood Association,led by President Deric Gourd. The association, along with Griess, are working for improvements in the area. It is working in partnership with the City’s Neighborhood Development Division and has developed a plan outlining goals for the community.
Students wanting to get involved in the city council can see all of its meetings and agendas on its website www.dmgov.org. The city council also has a YouTube channel to connect with the public.
Greiss offers a piece of advice to Drake students: “I would encourage people to get involved in their community, whether it be in their residence hall, in the Drake community at large or even at the city government level.”